Loudoun County supervisors on Tuesday voted to sell the Aldie Assemblage, commonly known as the Aldie Tavern, to the Piedmont Environmental Council, sending that proposal to a future public hearing.
In December 2021, the PEC, a regional conservation nonprofit, wrote to the county offering $600,000 for the property, which has been at the center of a years-long debate around conservation and construction in the historic village.
“Hopefully once this goes to public hearing and we get more public support for this and we actually move forward with actually signing the documents, this will end the Aldie saga for the Aldie assemblage, and I’m so tired of talking about it,” said Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) before the June 21 vote. “We finally have what we as a board majority believe is a very trustworthy organization with a long history of doing great things in this area that wants to take on this responsibility, own this property and do good things with it in coordination with the local community.”
County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) joked, “I think I had my first meeting on the Aldie Assemblage when I was 9 years old.”
“I just think they’ve [the PEC] been such a good community partner, a good community player, that there are times we have to recognize an organization that’s in your community and that you know wants the best things for our community,” she said.
Supervisors voted 7-2 in favor of advancing the sale, with Vice Chairman Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling) and Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) opposed. Letourneau said supervisors, out of fairness, should sell the property to the highest responsible bidder, referencing an offer for $100,000 more from Aldie resident Adam McBride.
McBride had offered $700,000, with a proposal to restore and preserve the assemblage. Supervisors also received a $75,000 offer from the Aldie Volunteer Fire Department for a portion of the property.
The Piedmont Environmental Council’s purchase also includes land under part of the current Aldie Volunteer Fire Department’s property—the property line includes outbuildings. The volunteer fire department is slated for replacement, and the PEC plans to lease to the volunteer fire department for $1 a year until the new station near Gilberts Corner is ready.
The county had bought the property with plans to build the new fire station there, but retreated from those plans after sustained outcry from the Aldie community starting in 2018. Supervisors later backed out of a tentative agreement to swap the land for property proposed for development near St. Louis, and then another to sell the property to Aldie resident and Aldie Heritage Association member Guy Gerachis.
The Piedmont Environmental Council seeks to become “steward of the property’s diverse natural, historic and scenic resources” and recognizes that “the vitality of our region’s towns and villages and the health of our environment are closely linked,” President Christopher Miller wrote.
“This is particularly true in the case of Aldie, which stands at the intersection of many of PEC’s long standing conservation initiatives, including protection of the Bull Run Mountains and the [sic] preserving the integrity of the Route 50 Traffic Calming project,” he wrote.
The terms of the proposed contract would commit the PEC to bring the structures into compliance with state building code and the county’s ordinance on maintenance of buildings in historic districts. The building has deteriorated in the years the county has owned it.
It is far from the council’s first environmental and preservation project in Loudoun. Those include acquiring 239 acres at nearby Gilberts Corner and working with NOVA Parks to create the 150-acre Gilberts Corner Regional Park, being a part of planning exercises in Loudoun such as Envision Loudoun and the ongoing zoning ordinance rewrite, being a founding member of the Route 50 Corridor Coalition—which eventually led to the Rt. 50 roundabouts—and the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership.
This article was updated June 22 at 2:45 p.m. to correct errors about the land around the Aldie Volunteer Fire station.